Hate It? Meditate On It
When most people think of mediation they think of all the good stuff. Folks often invoke the image of a seated monk, visions of lush greenery or astral planes. People aren’t likely to envision meditation as a place where they confront the uncomfortable and dark aspects of life.
Truthfully, outside of the safety your therapist’s office, meditation is the best place for you to responsibly confront your anger and resentments.
Lean in if You Dare
I have been known to have a hot temper. Over the years I would easily ignore people’s concerns by saying, “I’m Puerto Rican & from New York, this is my DNA,” clearly failing to recognize the aggressive and self-enabling nature of my statement.
Even as I developed my personal spiritual practice and worked with my therapist on my temper, it was still too easy for me to get angry. Now of course I am not a monk. I live in the world and don’t expect myself to be perfect. Yet it was clear I was missing the mark in some way. I failed to realize that “below anger is enormous tenderness, which most of us quickly cover up with the hardness of rage. ” When you realize that the anger, rage or hate is a shell covering up your tender humanity, it changes everything.
I used to get mad at the person who upset me, unable to separate them from the behavior. If I was really pissed I would get anger headaches and stomach aches. One day in my studies, I came across a teaching that said: If you resent it meditate on it. The thought arrested me.No, let’s be real – it frightened me. However, I couldn’t deny that the longer I allowed the resentment or anger to persist, the unhappier I would become and the more crowded my mind would feel. At that time I had experienced some circumstances in my personal life that were destabilizing. Despite my discomfort, I chose to make that very challenging situation the subject of my mediation, daring to fully lean in to the exercise.
From Crown of Thorns to Blooming Lotus
Focusing on the most intense situation in my life was not easy. It felt like a crown of thorns placed directly on my brain. The Buddhist practice outlined here encourages you to examine the circumstance or situation that you resent, hate or have anger towards. The point is to look at the situation from all sides while holing onto that underlying Tenderness.
You are giving yourself a safe space to explore and question your experience. Your goal is not to review every small detail of what happened for blame but rather to examine YOUR EXPERIENCE. Remember the goal is to stay connected to the tenderness that you covered up with your rage in the moment. For example, when our 45th president was elected many people were enraged and it was impossible for them to find an ounce of compassion for him. However if we use this method we will quickly discover that many were terrified about their rights and freedoms being compromised.
The challenge lies in allowing ourselves to use the meditation as a place to discharge the negativity associated with the experience as we replace that energy with compassion for counterpart and ourselves. It is that compassion that will inform our future behavior in interactions. The more you resolve yourself to actively mediate on past moments and circumstances that have made you angry, hateful or resentful, the easier it will be to recognize the present warning signs of these negative emotions. When you are able to more easily recognize the onset of these emotions, the more able you will be to remain connected to the tenderness under the surface.
When you stay connected to the tenderness, you can be assured you will remain in a more compassionate space no matter the circumstance.
Compassion for the WIN
Ultimately, it’s all about restoring compassion. When we are angry, full of hate or resentment, we are not in a compassionate space. Our hearts and minds are closed. Yet, if we take a few moments to step back and reflect, we are able to recognize the catalyst for our negative emotions was our own feelings of tenderness.
I am not suggesting that we are all the problem, but rather that regardless of who ‘started it’ we can ‘end it’ by cultivating compassion within ourselves for our own tenderness.Taking the time to proactively sit with the things that anger us or fill us with resentment can be the medicine we need to minimize the time we actually spend angry.
Remember if you “Hate it, Meditate on it.” Chances are you will soon recall your own tenderness and soften.
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